JUNE 2013

Volume XIII, No. 6

 This Month's coming events:

June 28 -- General Meeting, Kingwood College

July 5 -- Insperity Observatory Public Night

July 6 -- Star Party O'Brien Dark Site, Executive Board Meeting Prior at 6 P.M.

Please see below for more information.

June 28, 2013

Novice Program

 6:30 - 7:15pm in the Cosmic Forum, upstairs in the CLA building.

May and June are a combined presentation on Naked Eye Objects and Binoculars.  Dr. Clevenson presented the first part of this combined subject last month, and will be concluding this presentation this month.

Dr. Aaron Clevenson


Main Presentation

Beginning at 7:30pm in the building CLA Teaching Theater

Bruce Pollard will be presenting an eyepiece workshop, complete with work stations for testing eyepieces.  Eyepieces can be tested for focal length, eye relief, and field of view.  Please bring an eyepiece or two for testing.  1 1/2 inch eyepieces can be tested, and there may be opportunity to test 2 inch eyepieces, as well.  Bruce hopes Jim and others can help, and asks for Randy to advertise for anyone to bring eyepieces to test.


What’s Up Doc?” by Aaron Clevenson


1. NHAC members are now eligible for a discount on purchases at Land, Sea & Sky. Be sure to make your NHAC membership known when making a purchase.


2. The Comet Report is now available online.


3.  Ken Dwight has provided us an article giving information on cleaning a telescope mirror.  This sounds like one of those chores which has to be addressed from time to time.  I am keeping this Notice on the Newsletter for a while because it is full of good information on cleaning the mirrors.


4.  Name Badges:  We have name badges for many of our members (thanks, Aaron!). Please pick up your name badge when you arrive and wear it during the meeting. We would like for all our members to get to know each other.  Please don't forget to return the badge after the meeting.


5. To all new members:

We are glad you have chosen to join us.  Please do come to the Novice and General Meetings, and come out to the Dark Site as well.  We are definitely an observing club.  Our next Star Party is July 6 at the O'Brien Dark Site.  Please see below.  We look forward to seeing you.


6.  The month of August is going to have 2 Star Parties , Aug 3 and also 31.   

Star Party July 6, 2013


The Board of Directors has decided the focus of the Star Parties will be to give as much assistance as possible to new observers.  Sundown for the next couple of months will be about 8:20, so dark observing will start around 9 P.M. or a little after.

For the Star Party itself, the plan continues to be for a number of the more experienced observers to attend each of the Star Parties, with telescopes, so we "novices" will know there is someone who is planning to be at the Star Party with equipment and the desire to share knowledge.

For those who may not have been to the O'Brien Dark Site, it is just north of Dobbin on Highway 105 west of Montgomery.  It has reasonably dark skies, and a great low horizon in all directions.  The Owners, Tim and Wanda O'Brien are very cooperative hosts, and they do turn off any outside lights which might bother us.

The actual Dark Site location is password protected.  Any officer can give you the password, but it is not for the general public.

On our NHAC web site, click on "Observing" then select "O'Brien Dark Site".  Scroll down to the O'Brien Dark Site information and look for the "detailed directions" link.  You will need to enter the password.  There are maps as well as directions.  It is well worth the drive, which is about 10 minutes after you leave Dobbin going north.

Normally Aaron Clevenson, James Billings, and likely Bruce Pollard  are there to offer assistance to any who wish it.  I (Rusty) will not be there this time, nor on August 3.  I expect to be at the August 31 Star Party.

Star Parties are routinely scheduled for the Saturday on or just before the New Moon throughout the year.  This is to provide the best opportunity for dark skies.  In the month of August notice we have two (2) Star Parties:  August 3 and 31.  In September the Star Party will be September 28.

Inclement weather, of course, can force Star Party cancellation or postponement. 



The Membership Committee DOOR PRIZE segment of our general meetings
is being received quite well.  So keep your outgrown astro items coming
while refining your own collection.  If you do win a prize you won't use, bring it back for a future drawing. 

In addition,  we will be trying the "gifting" of past copies of Reflector, Astronomy and Sky&Tel magazines primarily as samples for new members.  If you have fairly recent past copies of these publications that you can spare, bring them in to the Membership Committee.
......George Marsden

Upcoming NHAC Meeting Schedule

  June 28 and July 26

NHAC is a proud member of:



2013 Public Nights*

July 5, 8:15 PM

August 2

September 6

October 4

November 1

December 6

These Public Nights are a tremendous opportunity for us to be a part of Astronomy Outreach, and also to observe with scopes we might never see, otherwise.  The Observatory has a 16" and a 20" telescope, each computer controlled, which provide awesome views of the sky.  There are typically 30 or 40 guests at the Public Night, several repeating, who are very appreciative of the opportunity to expose their kids to Astromony, and who enjoy the observing in their own experience, as well.  And then after all our guests have departed, several of us usually stay for a while and enjoy the views.  I (Rusty) have seen more detail on Jupiter from the Insperity Observatory than at any other time or place.

The Observatory is about 3/4 of a mile south of Will Clayton Parkway on S. Houston Ave, just north of Rankin Road in Humble, in the back part of the Humble Elementary School on the East side of S. Houston Ave.

For information, see the web site.


*Dates and times are subject to change.

The Insperity Observatory at Humble ISD, 2505 S. Houston Ave., Humble, TX 77396 281-641-STAR

Rusty's Ramblings...

Hi Folks:

Last month I introduced the concept of using an equatorially mounted telescope to find objects without using setting circles or a go-to function.  An manual equatorial mount without a go-to capability is cheaper than with, as it does not need the computer or motorized capability.  An added advantage is that you must learn your way around the night sky.

I covered the need to do some homework and locate your target object(s) on a star chart and figure how many degrees East or West (RA) and how many degrees North or South (DEC) from an easily located star your target is.  This star will be your “base”.

I covered the technique for calculating how many degrees of true field of view you have through your eyepiece.  I personally use my longest focal length eyepiece as a “finder” eyepiece.

I also covered the need to carefully align the equatorial mount with True North, near Polaris.

I should mention that from the O’Brien Dark Site, there is a blinking light on a tower just right of the windmill, which is very close to True North.  If it is still daylight the blinking light is white, and at a certain time it turns red.  If you line up your scope mount on this light and have your latitude scale set for 30 degrees, you will be pretty close, but not yet close enough!  You do need to complete the alignment procedure using the manufacturer’s directions.  You will need to experiment with the RA and DEC adjusting knobs on your mount to find out which is which.  You also need to find out which direction to turn the knobs to move East or West (RA), or North or South (DEC).  (Hint:  The stars move to the west.  Observe a star in your eyepiece, and see which way it goes.  That is West.  See which way you need to move the RA adjustment knob to move the star back into the center of the eyepiece.  That is the Westward knob movement.)

Whew!!  Now for Part 2.

When you have finished aligning your mount, locate visually the star you have selected for your “base” star, find it in your Telrad, Reflex sight or finder scope.  Put it in the middle of your finder and then look through the main scope.  If you are lucky, you will see your star.  Center the “base” star in the main scope, and then use the aligning adjustments on your finder to align the Telrad or whatever so the “base” star is in the center of your finder.

If you were not lucky and did not find your base star in the main scope, you will simply need to look around using your adjustment knobs.  The rest of the procedure is the same.

At this point you have:

  •  Home work—you have a star or constellation chart with your target located.  This is imperative!
  • You have calculated the true field of view for your finder eyepiece.
  • You have carefully aligned your equatorial mount.
  • You have learned which knob is RA, and which is DEC.  You have also learned which way to turn the knobs to move East or West (RA), and North or South (DEC).
  • You have aligned your finder Telrad, finder  scope or whatever with the main telescope.

Let’s go find a target!  (We will use my example scope with 1000mm focal length, 32mm eyepiece, 68 degree apparent field of view,and 2.2 degree true Field of View.  Please see last month’s newsletter for review.)

How about M-57, the Ring Nebula, in the Constellation Lyra?  At our next Star Party, July 6, at 9:30 P.M., Lyra will be nicely up in the Eastern sky, and is easy to find.  (Vega, in the Summer Triangle, is a good marker for Lyra.)   M-57 is at the far end of the constellation from Vega, between the 2 end stars, located almost in the middle between them, and is easily recognizable when you find it.  Those 2 end stars are almost exactly 2 degrees apart, which is convenient for my 2.2 degree true Field of View.  Having a “finder eyepiece” with at least a 2 degree true field of view is a wonderful thing!  But if you do not, not to worry!  If your widest true field of view is 1 degree, or 0.75, or whatever, we will explore how to use it.

Using your carefully aligned finder, be it Telrad, Reflex or finder scope, center the 2 end stars, Sulafat and Sheliak, in your finder.  Then look in your finder eyepiece.  In my case, they are nicely in my finder eyepiece, the 32mm.   Move your scope slightly if necessary to include both of the end stars in your eyepiece.  Now looking almost exactly between them there is a pale ghostly doughnut, M-57.

Enjoy!  We have taken advantage of the fact that the 2 stars on the end stars fit nicely in my finder eyepiece.

But what about something not sitting so conveniently?  Let’s try M-29, not far away in Cygnus.  The brightest star in Cygnus is Deneb, also part of the Summer Triangle.  The central star not quite as bright is Sadr, where the wings intersect the body, and that will be our base star.

M-29 itself is about 2 degrees almost straight south of Sadr.

Locate Sadr in the middle of your finder scope,  then if the finder scope is still aligned, Sadr itself should be in the center of your finder eyepiece.  But where is M-29?  It is almost 2 degrees south of Sadr, (South is the DEC adjustment) and if Sadr is in the middle of a 2.2 degree field of view, then from Sadr to the edge of the eyepiece view it is only 1.1 degrees.  Now what?  Simple.  Choose some star or group of stars at the South edge of the eyepiece, and slowly move the DEC adjustment knob to the south.  If the chosen star or group of stars at the edge moves towards the center, you are moving in the right direction.  If they move away from your center, then you picked a star or group of stars to the North.  (OOPS!) Carefully move the base star Sadr back to the middle, then pick a star or group of stars in the other direction which really is to the South.

Now move the DEC knob to the South enough to center the chosen edge star or group of stars to the center of the finder eyepiece.  You have now moved your scope about 1.1 degrees South.  Do this again.  Pick a star or group of stars on the South edge of the finder eyepiece and bring them to the center of the eyepiece.  You have now moved your scope about 2.2 degrees South, and M-29 will be the fairly easily seen open cluster of stars almost exactly centered in your eyepiece.  Again, enjoy!

If this is your first experience using an equatorial mount to find something without using setting circles or a go-to mount, and you have successfully followed my thinking to this point, you are probably worn out.  It you have done all this and found M-57 and M-29 using this method, you have accomplished a great deal.

Next month I am going to continue with a more difficult example of finding a target which is further away both in RA and DEC.  The basic technique still works.

Have fun at this July 6 Star Party.  I am sorry I will be missing it.

Clear Skies,


The North Houston Astronomy Club (NHAC), was formed for educational and scientific purposes, for people of all races, creeds, ethnic backgrounds and sex, for the primary purpose of developing and implementing programs designed to increase the awareness and knowledge of astronomy, especially for those living near the north side of Houston Texas.
NHAC is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the opportunity for all individuals to pursue the science of astronomy, by observing in a dark-sky site, learning the latest technology, and sharing their knowledge and experience. Thus, our “Observe-Learn-Share” motto.

North Houston Astronomy Club is Sponsored by:


  • Membership Benefits
  • Discounts on purchases at Land, Sea & Sky. Be sure to make your NHAC membership known when making a purchase.
  • Loaner telescopes
  • Observe from Dark Sky Observing Sites
  • Learn from experienced amateur astronomers
  • Share your knowledge at club hosted picnics and star parties
  • Discount magazine subscriptions (contact our Treasurer)
  • Includes membership in the Astronomical League
  • The quarterly Astronomical League magazine “Reflector”
  • Borrow from the NHAC “Library”
  • Eligibility for NHAC Executive Board

Observe - Learn - Share

The North Houston Astronomy Club is a not-for-profit organization sponsored by Lone Star College-Kingwood, dedicated to increasing the awareness and knowledge of the science of astronomy. Public meetings are held each month on the fourth Friday.